Daniel J. Mitchell

Some people are grumbling that the First Lady has taken the joy out of school lunches. She’s identified with the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010,” which uses federal funding to coerce schools into providing meals with fewer calories.

Here’s a radical idea for the First Lady. Parents should be responsible for their own kids.

But I think this criticism misses the point. The problem is not overweight kids, as one side argues, or politically correct micro-managing, as the other side claims.

Instead, we should be asking the fundamental question about whether subsidizing school lunches is an appropriate function of the federal government.

I’ve previously argued that the federal government should get out of the business of income redistribution and means-tested programs. In part, this is because the Constitution does not authorize any federal involvement in this area.

But I also think the evidence is very clear that the welfare state is undermining progress in reducing poverty, often by trapping people in lives of dependency.

And it also sometimes brings out the worst in people, as you can see in this horrifying story about a welfare couple in Florida and this sad story about a girl in Connecticut (though England has equally reprehensible examples, as you can see here, here, and here).


Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy at the Cato Institute.
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